Does technology exist in translation services today or is it still a bit archaic?

With the advances in technology, translators have efficient tools assisting them – as well as a computer with Internet access, a scanner, a fax, etc. Those tools are called CAT (computer-assisted translation, or computer-aided translation) tools – also called machine-assisted, or machine-aided, translation. They are computer programs that make the translation process easier and faster. There are many of them, some of them are available for free, others can be quite costly.

Some of the tools are very simple. Among them we can find grammar and spell checkers, word counters, dictionaries and terminology databases on CD-ROM or online, etc.

As for the more complicated ones, there are project management softwares that make the work of translation project managers easier when projects are complex.

Another tool very useful is the translation memory software. That system stores translation units of the source text and their equivalents in a database. When translating the new text, if there are any related units (called segments), it retrieves it. It is very useful especially when there are a lot of repetitions in a text. CATALYST, Passolo, RC-WinTrans Lite, TRANSIT & TermStar, and Translator’s Workbench are among the famous ones. A recent tool is the language search engine software, which searches units in a great number of translation memory systems. Another tool that is used for translation memories too is the soc-called alignment software. One of its functions is to find which units belong together so that the translation memory database can be built.

There are also many online tools. Pootle is one of them. It is a free translation management tool that makes the translation process much easier. It is more used for localization of applications than for translation of documents. Among its features there is a translation memory. Other online tools like Kbabel and Poedit are tools for editing gettext .po files. They are useful for localization as well as for globalization.

A large number of companies have their employees equipped with a computer and Internet. But the number of companies having translation softwares like translation memory systems is much smaller. The big firms use more that kind of technology than the small ones.

As for the European Commission, it has its own tools for its translation service (DGT – Directorate-General for Translation). For instance, there is a software called Poetry that is used for the electronic transmission of translation requests from customers to the Translation Directorate-General. There are many other useful tools like the interface Dossier Manager (for translation management), DGTVista (a search engine including many documents as translations and their source text), EUR-Lex (free consultation of legal documents as treaties in all official EU languages, open to the general public), etc. The DGT uses translation tools like IATE (Inter Active Terminology for Europe), an interinstitutional terminology database open to the general public and free of charge too, and a translation memory technology: Translator’s Workbench along with the Euramis central translation memory. Translators in some countries can also use a voice recognition tool (Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking software) so that they do not need to type, and therefore they can save time.

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